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A court warrant against owner Vijay Mallya over his airline business has no repercussions for his Force India Formula One team, deputy principal Bob Fernley said on Sunday, even as reports have emerged that driver Nico Hulkenberg is set to join Sauber next season, while teammate Paul di Resta is concerned about his future.
A non-bailable warrant had been issued against the liquor and aviation mogul after four cheques for some $2 million had bounced. "I think there's been a request for warrants, I don't think they've been issued...but I am 100 percent sure they haven't been served," Fernley told Reuters at the Korean Grand Prix.
"It doesn't affect the team at all. It has no bearing whatsoever. I don't think it will go anywhere," he added of the claim. "It is an offence in India to issue a cheque without the funds being there, for sure. There is substance in that. Why it was done I don't know. It is so far below Vijay he wouldn't have a clue what is going on anyway."
Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines has defaulted on payments to airports, tax authorities and banks and is seven months behind salary payments to staff. It's also one of the team's main sponsors, alongside other Mallya-owned brands. Team co-owners Sahara Group, who took a 42.5 percent stake in the team last year, are also in the business headlines after being ordered by the Supreme Court to refund about $4.6 billion to investors.
Fernley pointed out that Force India was a completely separate entity from Kingfisher Airlines and was privately funded. "For some reason in Formula One we are captivated by our own self-importance. In Vijay's world, the Formula One programme is a relatively small entity," he said. "I'm saddened by the stories because I think it's probably political mischief that's gone on in India....Vijay is obviously a target at the moment."
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